Sunday, May 11, 2008

P. F. Chang's

I still remember the first time I saw P. F. Chang's was in Austin, TX. A few friends and I were on the way to a Mexican restaurant. I suddenly saw this Chinese restaurant near by, and felt home. However, I didn't try it at last, and neither did I try it after I came to California until this Friday. I came into this restaurant with this mixed feeling. It is not a traditional Chinese restaurant, at least from the foreign waiter/waitress and pretty plates; but its renovation is very Chinese, with ancient paint and red color all over the wall. It turned out the restaurant is indeed a mix. The food is indeed a totally disaster, totally messed up the traditional Chinese cooking style. Too much soy sauce and sault; but the service is great, fast, efficient, and pretty plates which I do like. It is indeed American-decorated Chinese. Amazing to see it is packed with people for at least over two hours during lunch. Plus, it has a nice-designed website.

It kinda of reminded me of Chinese news in American media. On one hand, we see very Chinese-culture oriented reports, but on the other hand, the content and spirit is totally distorted. A lot of foreign reporters were trained thirty or forty year ago, and still hold this strong opinion towards Chinese. Pitifully, a lot of nice young American have been reading those since they were little, and bearing this wrong image afterwards, just like they will take P.F. Chang's as the native Chinese cuisine. In one of my non-market strategy class, the professor asked us to describe China in one word. The most shocked word I heard is "communism" from a young and charming female classmate. I got stucked and didn't know what to say.

Today I watched two war movies, We Were Soldiers Once..and Young, and Saving Private Ryan. Beyond the brutal scene, the only thing I saw is miscommunication, between American and Vietnamese, and American and Germany. Now Chinese will face the same situation, from the image people get from the cheap manufacturing labor to the angry shouting group in front of French Supermarket Carrefour. Media, especially English media, has an important role in describing all this. I sincerely hope they could end up with the original Chinese cuisine at last.

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